InspectionStructural Survey by Drone

12/09/2016by Derek Fett

Structural survey by drone is the most advanced way to carry out inspection work.

A key part to any external building maintenance schedule is the inspection phase. This can sometimes be considered the most important stage as it ensures a scope of works is formed with a clear understanding of the condition and state of the building fabric.

To determine the overall condition, conventionally surveyors and building managers would use scaffolding, rope access or Mobile Elevated Access Platforms (MEWP’s).  This can prove to be very costly and time consuming, also erecting the equipment and gaining access to setup can be very difficult or unsuitable.

Structural Survey by Drone

structural survey by drone

So, as technology moves on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s), more commonly known as drones, are becoming a more effective means to gaining these images to assess the condition of roofs, gutters, down pipes, as well the external cladding and brick work.

UAV’s are becoming more common place within the UK.  Common perception is that they are purely for video production work or scenic views for sales brochures, but they have a very real and effective role within the survey and inspection arena.

Aerial Media Scotland are able to carry out structural survey by drone, they can setup and operate in locations which are difficult to access with a MEWP and are are quicker than scaffolding to be erected, whilst providing real time images to be viewed on the ground in video or digital stills format.

Three times faster and three times cheaper

structural survey by drone

Structural survey by drones have real cost benefits!  In the case of a rope access team working on wind turbines for annual inspection, work has proved to be a third of the cost and three times quicker than rope access.

Aerial Media Scotland (at the time of writing) is the only company to have worked with a Housing Association in Scotland and complete flat roof inspections, which until this point had not been completed due to access issues.

Planning for a drone structural survey

Careful planning is involved to ensure residents and members of the public are aware of the UAV inspections being carried out in their area, as well liaising with the police beforehand.  Over two days, 16 three to seven storey flats were inspected with flat roofs, with any major defects identified by the building manager and surveyor on location in real time.  The remaining images were downloaded from the UAV and sent to the surveyors with 24 hours of the work being completed.

Of course, with any work, engaging a contractor and ensuring they are competent to complete the work is vital.  Within the UK the Civil Aviation Authority is the national authority who governs everything that flies, including UAV’s.  Any UAV operator should be able to show a current Permission for Aerial Work certificate which proves they are competent and fully insured to fly a UAV for commercial purposes.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they are experienced in inspection and survey work though.

Another thing which you have to consider is the image quality. There are a number of different UAV’s on the market with differing price points and these price points also indicate the type of camera and quality being carried out.  Ask for examples of survey images before committing to a supplier.

Aerial Media Scotland are fully CAA qualified and experienced in structural surveys.  References are available on request. 

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